Wind of change: Windmills could be a permanent fixture of the Yorkshire countryside
PUBLISHED: 16:02 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013
The Yorkshire countryside could be transformed by hundreds of giant turbines producing clean green energy, as Paul Mackenzie reports
The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life
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We are in the throes of a rural revolution. Forests are being created which soar into the clouds in some of the most beautiful parts of the county.
These giants make use of one of the most abundant natural resources we have, the wind.
The huge turbines and their soft rhythmic thrum have become familiar sights and sounds and are instantly recognisable icons of the drive to create a cleaner, greener future.
Yorkshires first commercial wind farm was built at Royd Moor, near Barnsley, and Ovendon Moor, near Halifax, in 1993 and turbines now cluster on hills and moorland around the county.
Work is expected to begin in 2013 to create a new wind farm off the Yorkshire coast. When it opens a year or so later, it is estimated that Humber Gates 77 giant turbines could generate enough electricity to provide power for up to 150,000 homes.
The government has a commitment to generate 34 per cent of UK electricity from renewables by 2020 the figure is currently less than seven per cent but although there is now widespread acceptance of the need to generate environmentally friendly power and to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, with each newly proposed wind farm comes a protest.
The No to Wolds Wind Farm Group is typical of the organisations which have sprung up around the county. Spokesman Steve Hey was lured to move to the area from East Sussex by the countryside and said: I wouldnt have come if the views were spoiled by these huge turbines, and plenty of other people will be put off coming, too.
Steve became involved in the campaign early this year after reading of a plan to install 14 turbines, each 145 metres tall on the Wolds.
I hadnt thought much about wind farms until then but did some research and really began to doubt that the benefits they bring were worth the disruption they cause.
Im not against renewable energy and we are not a group of Nimbies simply do not see that these wind turbines are efficient or worth the vast sums of money that are being spent on them.
do not believe that the technology is proven and yet the government seem hell bent on pushing ahead with wind power and not researching other alternative forms of energy such as tidal power which would seem a better long term bet to me.
But those in favour of wind energy argue that the power it produces is clean, reliable, affordable and safe.
Nick Medic, from Renewable UK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, said: Some people object to the size and visual impact of wind turbines, while many others think they look elegant and majestic. However, the reality is that we are running out of fossil fuels and we need something urgently as replacement.
UK Coal, the countrys largest producer estimates total UK coal reserves will last only another 20 years. If we dont act in time we will have to import all our coal within the next two decades in order to keep the lights on. We will also have to import much of our gas. Visual impact is important but we must also consider energy security, economic benefits, climate change and so on.
Wind turbines work when it is windy, which for an average turbine in the UK is around 80 per cent of the time. Of course we should continue to explore further ways to generate clean green energy, but why should we turn our backs on an abundant and free source, which is readily available within current technological capabilities.